Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
As I write this, I’m on hour 40 of a FAST. The only thing I’ve consumed in the last 40 hours is water, two cups of black coffee, and a half cup of organic, grass fed, bovine bone broth (which actually was very helpful!).
Why? I’ve had a little bit of an upset stomach this past week, most likely from taking some NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) for a pickleball injury. Note: I tweaked my shoulder and knee reaching for a shot. NSAIDs can upset the microbiome a little bit, plus I just wanted to see how I’d do with a longer FAST. I’ve done 32 hours before, but never 40.
Needless to say, this experience has prompted the topic for this week’s Note: FASTING.
As you know, I’m a big proponent of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting and a low carb diet are very effective tools for health, especially if you want to lose weight. I try to do this everyday, except on the weekends where I might have brunch.
For me, an intermittent fasting protocol is 17 hours OFF and 7 hours ON. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years now, and it’s really helped me a lot. Prolonged fasting wasn’t on my radar until now. With the gut discomfort, I knew I needed to do something different. My physician dad used to tell me that if you had a stomach ache, PUT THE BOWEL AT REST. That means don’t eat. Period. And it almost always works. And so I did.
Note: if you are experiencing constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, gerd, etc., try NOT eating. Give your bowel a rest.
We weren’t meant to graze all day! Because we have refrigeration and processed foods, people are eating from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. I believe this is one reason why we are in such bad health.
A large majority of the US population are unhealthy due to obesity and poor eating patterns.
Poor eating patterns have caused new diseases to pop up over the last few hundred years, such as: metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer and dementia. We ARE NOT getting more healthy despite all of our advances in medicine. We’re getting LESS healthy. We’re taking more medicines, and becoming less healthy.
Whether you do prolonged fasting for 24 or 40 hours, or intermittent fasting for 17 hours, I believe BOTH are very beneficial to your health. Most total fasts are between 24 and 72 hours. If you’re going to do a week long fast you need to be followed by a doctor. I have some patients that do this, but you need to watch your electrolytes. That’s one reason I love doing a half cup of bone broth. I think that really helps. I feel great. It was not that hard. It rebalanced my gut for sure.
Benefits of Fasting
Although fasting is very popular right now, its practice dates back centuries for both cultural and religious reasons. I was listening to our minister talk the other day about the prophet Isaiah and how he fasted to figure out what to do next. It got me thinking about why so many prophets did fasts. I’ve heard that when you fast, things become more clear. I believe this to be true. Your brain clears up when you fast! Right now, at hour 40, it’s amazing how much energy I have and how much better my brain works when I’m not eating! It’s way more doable than I thought, with way more benefits:
- Weight loss
- Promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance
- Fights inflammation (the root cause of most all disease out there)
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces triglycerides
- Reduces cholesterol
- Reduces your A1C (and thereby reduces coronary artery disease)
- Boosts brain function
- Prevents neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
- Probably is beneficial to prevent cancer
- Increases growth hormone levels
- Delays aging and extends longevity (especially healthspan)
It’s been found that intermittent fasting is as effective for weight loss as calorie restriction. A large study found that it reduced weight by 8% and body fat percentage by 16%. It also promoted muscle growth. PLUS… if you’re a TYPE 2 diabetic and you intermittently fast and eat low carb, you can get off most of your medications! Type 2 Diabetes is curable!
Final Thoughts Before Ending My Fast
This was a good experience. I would definitely do it again. I feel really good. I have more energy. I slept great and probably hurt less during the process. Note: you can’t get my age (67) and not have a little degenerative joint disease! Not to mention, my GUT is saying THANK YOU! It needed a break!
A few tips if you are considering a prolonged fast:
- Stay hydrated
- Consider a little bone broth if you’re feeling hungry
- Ease your way back into eating
That’s what I’m about to do right now, ease my way back into eating! Hope this helps for all those out there who want to try fasting. I highly recommend it!
Till next week.